Friday, September 28, 2012

Letter From a Sponsored Child

*I am a Compassion blogger! This will be my fourth and last post for Compassion Blog Month. Then I will be given a topic to write about approximately once every month. This week's writing challenge is to write a letter as if you were a sponsored child. God did tell us to become like little children.
Dear Friend,
Hi! I'm Grace from Ethiopia. I'm 9. I live with my mama, 2 brothers, and 1 sister. I love my family so much. I am the oldest and hold many responsibilities to care for my younger brothers and sister. My mama is a street vendor, so I watch my brothers and sister all day. I help with cooking when we have food and carrying water. My favorite food is injera and doro wat. 
I love to play soccer with my friends. I love to sing and attend church. My favorite bible story is any about little children!
Let me tell you about where I live. I have a home made of mud walls, a tin roof, and a dirt floor. I share a bed with my mama, brothers, and sister. My most prized possession is a jump rope that an American visitor brought me. Along with my pretty dress and shoes. My first pair of shoes. I am so thankful to God. He is so good to me!
My life changed when I got sponsored. I was waiting for months and months. I was worried I would never get sponsored--that I wasn't pretty enough, or wasn't a good girl. The most beautiful woman sponsored me. She writes me letters! She sends me paper dolls, stickers, and pictures. She tells me she loves me and that she is proud of how I am doing in school. She makes me happy. 
My sponsor makes me feel important. I wish for my friends to all get sponsors too, so they can feel important and loved. I am sad for them. They can't go to school until they are sponsored. Some of them are sick. Will you sponsor one of my friends? Please?
Because of my sponsor, I can now go to school and learn all kinds of things. There are books at school! I hope to be a teacher. I just know that one day, I want to grow up to be a sponsor!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Over the Weekend

Last weekend, Colin and I travelled to Spring Valley to stay with my parents for the weekend. It is a little bit over a 3 hour drive. We were visiting because it was the weekend of my brother's fiance's wedding shower and bachelorette party, and my brother's bachelor party. They are getting married next month: October 27th. Colin is a groomsman and I am a bridesmaid.
Saturday morning was the wedding shower. After that, a bunch of us ladies headed out for the bachelorette party. We went to Chateau St. Croix Winery. We participated in wine tasting, along with cheeses and crackers. Then we took a tour of the winery. I found it interesting learning about how the winery came to be, and how wine is made.

The bride (in white) and her bridesmaids posing by dozens of oak barrels that held aging wine:

I am the back left girl. :)
Then we had dinner at a restaurant on a lake. It was a beautiful view.
The boys went four-wheeling all afternoon. Then we all met up later that night for a bonfire at my brother's house.
The next day, Colin and I went to Como Zoo in Minnesota with my parents. It was a lot of fun! Zoo visits twice in one month = a fantastic month for me!
We stopped at the gift shop at the zoo before we left to go home, and I have some amazing Christmas presents to unwrap in three months from my parents! There was an area of the gift shop that had products made in Africa! Being that I am a music therapist, they bought for me a variety of African-made instruments. After I open them on Christmas, I will have to post a photo. I am so excited to incorporate them into my sessions, and use them with my child/ren!
Colin bought Baby Mumford her first stuffed animal: a giraffe.
What are your plans for this coming weekend? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Sponsored Child Pinterest Contest

Compassion International is holding a My Sponsored Child Pinterest Contest!
To receive all of the information, please visit the link above. But basically, this is how it works:
1. Create a Pinterest board titled "My Sponsored Child."
2. On the board you create, pin the image as seen on the link above.
3. Pin either a photo of you and your sponsored child together, a photo of you with a letter from your sponsored child, or a photo of you holding a photo of your sponsored child.
Once you have created your board, share the URL with Compassion by visiting the above link.
You can also enter the contest by sponsoring a Compassion child.
Ten sponsors will win a $25 gift for their sponsored child.
Five sponsors will win a $100 gift for their sponsored child's family.
This contest ends September 23rd!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Home Study En Route!

We got a call today from our homestudy agency social worker saying that the rough draft of our homestudy is on its way to All God's Children International in Oregon!
This is news to celebrate! God honors bold prayers!
Now we wait for AGCI to receive it, look it over, and make corrections. We also have a copy of it to make corrections on. Then AGCI will send it back to our social worker, she'll make the needed corrections, and then give the finalized copy to us.
And THEN, we can fill out our application to U.S. Customs and mail our completed dossier to AGCI. And pray for no changes needed to be made to our dossier documents.
Once AGCI approves of our dossier, we will be put on the waiting list!
Excitement is creeping in............

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bold and Confident

Isn't this picture so adorable? They are praying so hard! I wonder what they are praying for. And I wonder what would happen if I prayed this hard--with full assurance that God would answer my prayers. I want to pray big, bold, confident prayers!
Colin and I had a relaxing weekend off together. We had some brief errands to run and spent quite a bit of time creating jewelry for our Etsy shop and Z's, the bakery in town that sells our jewelry.
We also went on a refreshing hike! There is a state park near us that went to. It was beautiful and to hike along the lake and in the woods. I am a country girl at heart, and this hike reminded me that I want to own a home in the country someday. Peaceful. Fresh air. Sounds of nature.
Besides our application to U.S. Customs, which cannot yet be sent in, we are just waiting on our social worker to finish writing up our home study. That's all!
We are in a weird spot. We have nothing to do but wait. I don't like it.
I feel like I need to be doing something to speed up the process of getting on the waitlist, but I can't. I need to have patience, and focus on the blessing that will come after all of this hard work and waiting.
And I think waiting is hard work, too! I know I am going to have to work hard to not go crazy. :)
What is a bold and confident prayer you are praying for?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dear God

Dear God,
From Burkina Faso to Sri Lanka
El Salvador to Peru
Hunger aches like a beast
No clean water
No doctors or nurses, classes or
Families that love them
Hurt for them
Are desperate for them
Help me
Help us
Be the change
For one
Help us to live 
Because you died
Living is breathing life into others
Spraying a light into the world
Living is sacrificing
Enjoying the suffering as Paul did
Living is courage
Battling for Your Kingdom
Loving unconditionally
Fighting for lives
Lives of our brothers and sisters
Lord, let there be a revival in our hearts
Let children be sponsored
One by one by one
Oh Lord, wreck us.
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy Enkutatash!

Happy Ethiopian New Year!
On Sunday we were invited to celebrate the Ethiopian New Year with several Ethiopian adoptive families. It is such a blessing to be involved in a group like this, and it will be particularly important once our child/ren are home. It will be vital for their identity to have connections with other children born in Ethiopia.
Most of the families at the group already had their children home. It was beautiful seeing them all play together. Everyone brought an Ethiopian dish to share. It was interesting to notice how the children who were adopted at an older age really connected with the food from Ethiopia--injera, beef tibs, and doro wat--and the berbere seasoning.
We both had so much fun and learned so much from the other families. Most important advice: God has a plan. Have patience in the wait. When your child/ren are home, none of these difficult times will matter.
Explanation of Enkutatash as found on Paradise Ethiopia:
Literally meaning ‘a finger jewel gift’, Enkutatash recalls the gifts given to the eminent Queen of Sheba when she was welcomed home after visiting King Solomon. The festival has been celebrated as the rains come to an abrupt end since very early times and dancing and singing can be heard in every village across the green countryside.
The Ethiopian New Year falls on September 11th, just as the sun begins to shine all day again. The atmosphere is one of dazzling clarity and freshness and the highlands turn to gold as the Meskel flowers burst into bloom. Children, dressed up in their new clothes, sing and dance through the villages and give bouquets of flowers and painted drawings to each household which convey the spring-time message of a renewed life.

Enkutatash can be celebrated in Addis, Gondar, Axum or Mekele, but it is a splendid occasion in every town and village across the country.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Milwaukee Zoo and Ethiopian Cottage

On Friday, Colin and I drove to Milwaukee to finish up our dossier documents--we visited a friend who wrote one of our recommendation letters. We went with her to get the document notarized.
Other than our USCIS favorable determination letter and fingerprinting (which can't be done until we have a copy of our homestudy and no longer needs to be done before we can get onto the waitlist), we are done with paperwork! Unless, of course, a mistake is found on one of our completed documents. We are just waiting for Colin's Washington state background check to be completed and our homestudy will be done--then we can start gathering all our documents and mailing them to AGCI!
My heart is bursting! I am finding it so difficult to not put a timeframe on when we will be put on the waiting list. Not mine, but God's timing.
After we met with our friend, Colin took me on a date to the Milwaukee County Zoo! We had a blast. It rained through half of our visit, but cuddling under an umbrella made it sweet. Here are some pictures of our favorite animals:
Gorilla Eating Cardboard

Orangutan Showing Off

Bear Sleeping In Hammock

Beautiful Giraffes

My Favorite Of The Day, Hilarious Elephants


After the zoo, Colin and I went to the restaurant Ethiopian Cottage in Milwaukee. This was our second visit. The smells of the spices as soon as you open the door were so comforting to me. Along with the smell of diesel, I have heard this is what you smell when you get off the plane in Ethiopia!
We decided to try Buna (Ethiopian coffee). The restaurant brings in the beans unprocessed, and roasts and grinds them fresh every day. Coffee is served in a clay Jebbena pot to help you experience the complex flavors. It is a ritual in Ethiopia to have coffee and popcorn after a meal.
It was a lovely day, filled with some of my favorite things. I thought about our child/ren often and what it will be like when we can bring them to the zoo or to an Ethiopian restauant.
Beautiful daydreaming.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Compassion International

I am teaming up with Compassion International for the month of September as an advocate for children in poverty! Every week in September, I will be blogging on a topic they give me. After September, I will continue to be a Compassion blogger and be given new blogging assignments once or twice a month. I am honored to be able to write for Compassion, as I have a passion for doing all that I can to help break the cycle of poverty.
Taken from the Compassion website:
Compassion International, founded in 1952, exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Today, Compassion helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries!
Sponsorship. Is. Awesome.
I have written posts in the past about our three children: Dominic from Kenya, Eyouel from Ethiopia, and Mugwaneza from Rwanda.
Sponsorship provides:
Clean water
Medical care
Educational opportunities
A Bible in his or her native language
Life skills training
 But, most importantly, sponsorship provides children with a hope and a purpose. And extra love.
I write letters as often as I like to my children! I send coloring pages, pictures, and lots of stickers. And, I get letters and drawings back! It is a beautiful relationship. I pray for my children and their families and care centers daily. Compassion leads trips for sponsor families to meet their children--I hope to do this one day!
Will you do something for me?
Go to the Sponsor a Child page at Compassion and pray over the children. Pray for sponsorship, pray for them to know Jesus, pray for God to protect them.
Spend some time asking God to reveal His heart for the poor to you.
Sit down with your children to view the page and turn it into a learning opportunity about other children around the world.
Pray about sponsoring a child.
Let me know if you have any questions about Compassion or child sponsorship. I would be more than happy to talk to you! My e-mail address is: .

Monday, September 3, 2012


In my daily planner, every month focuses on one word. September's word is:
Every day of the month has a bible verse about happiness! I think God knew I would need this during the whole month of September, as we wrap up our dossier and dream of the waiting list.
This was written in my planner:
Is happiness a passing emotion or a permanent state? The Bible says it can be both. There is happiness that reacts to happenings (which is temporary and volatile), and there is happiness that overrules happenings (which is strong and lasting). Happiness based on happenings is part of life, but if that is all we count on we have to keep feeding ourselves with events to keep us upbeat. Those who know the joy that comes from God don't need happenings to keep them happy. They know how to develop inner joy because they know that whatever happens, God offers hope and promise.
 I love this! Inner joy comes from God and God alone.
I will leave you with one of the first leaves of fall in Wisconsin:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Finishing Our Dossier

I just love those words: let your faith be bigger than your fear. I find it easy to fear, but God quickly reminds me to trust! Have faith! Just because I may not see or know....He sees....He knows.
On Thursday, August 30th, our parameter change request was approved! We had to write a letter to AGCI explaining why we wanted to change our parameters, how our experiences and knowledge will make us fit parents for the new parameters, and additional resources that we will be able to utilize. We are so excited to have a view of what our family may look like--of what sex and of how old our child/ren may be. We can't wait to reveal it to everyone when we get on the waiting list!
But first, we must finish our dossier.
For our homestudy, we gave our social worker our parameter change so she could add it into her documents. The last thing she needs to complete the homestudy is Colin's background check for when he lived in Washington. We have everything sent in, we are just waiting on them to complete it. She also needs our reference questionnaire from a friend.
Once our social worker has everything she needs, she sends us the homestudy (a detailed look at Colin and me--our childhoods, our lives, and our thoughts on adoption, etc.). We look it over, and if we don't find need for corrections, we send it to Oregon, where AGCI is located. They look it over, and if no corrections need to be made, they send it back to us.
Then, we get our dossier all together.
The last things we need are pictures of our home and us, which we are completing today, and a reference letter from a friend.
Then we send in our application to U.S. customs, put all of the dossier documents together, including the written homestudy, and mail it to AGCI in Oregon. We pray for no mistakes! Once everything is just perfect, AGCI will put us on the waiting list!
Once we receive our FDL (Favorable Determination Letter) from customs, we mail it to AGCI, and they mail our completed dossier to Ethiopia!
Please pray for these last steps to be completed soon. We are bursting to get onto the waitlist!